Mr. McCarthy started out with the organization in the late 1970s when he was assigned to the London desk of WWD and later Paris, covering the world of fashion which also includes by organic proximity, society.
His reports from both cities, mainly his interviews of personalities garnered him the reputation for being the meanest man in town because any number of his subjects came out looking like fools in one way or another. Mr. McCarthy’s secret, however, was just to let them inflict all damage themselves. This is not an impossible task in a world of overdeveloped egos with gargantuan needs for attention, any kind of attention. The result, of course, was the pleasure of seeing people have themselves in print, demonstrating their natural vulnerability (i.e., the tendency to make fools of themselves).
The Fairchild publications were the most famous for this journalistic technique and even though it was obvious to anyone with half a brain, it rarely stopped a personality from wanting the interview and, i.e., the publicity. When the results came in, the question of course, was never “what did you expect?” but instead: “how could they?” Or more specifically, “how could he?”
Mr. McCarthy’s rapier approach would never have made him a D’Artagnan but it did enhance his reputation to the point where today’s practitioners of the W (as well as many other journals) interview do their best to follow his lead.
When he eventually put that aside and moved on, he became Executive Editor and then Executive Vice President of W and Women’s Wear Daily. In 1994, he received the Eugenia Sheppard Award for Fashion Journalism (although from two distinctly different worlds did they come), and today he is an eminence grise in his field, despite the fact that the mention of his name can still make some people see scarlet.